All About Planning

I report back to work on MONDAY, so I have spent the last few weeks trying to come up with my outline for the year, and some awesome planning sheets.

Planning ideas to make back to school easier

#teacherconfession I am AWFUL about using a planner!  I LOVE planners, love the way they work, love to decorate them, but I am not good about sitting down and using them.  I have never been good at it, but I am pretty good about sitting in front of my computer.

Brainstorming ideas for back to school

I started in Vegas talking with my bestie about some awesome apps that she used for math on her iPads.  Her school is 1:1 starting in 3rd grade!!  Then I started outlining a brief sketch of what I wanted my planner to look like as well as some ideas that I knew I needed to start working on.  I love using my flair pens to help me with my planning!

Weekly Planning sheets for digital plans '15-'16 school year

From there I actually started to create what I wanted my weekly planning pages to look like and started working on some plans for the first few days of school!  We start school on a Wednesday this year!!  

I have this big chunk of time on Tuesday when my kids have specials, so I have a big chunk of blank space.  What do you think I should put on my planner in this blank chunk?!

I love typing my lesson plans too because it allows me to share them with you all on Sundays and then I will be able to add products so you can click right to them!!  I can't wait to share my first week of school plans soon!

Outlining the big ideas, and filling in details

We are switching back to quarters this school year, which put me in a bit of a pickle when I was trying to plan.  In the past we've had trimester so I spent each trimester focusing on each type of science.  My partner teacher and I were able to come up with what we wanted to do, and where we wanted to plug them in based on the number of weeks in each quarter.

From there we went in and started adding ideas to our plans, once again, just a rough sketch!

Long Term Planning sheets for the school year

Finally, we started working on our long term plans for the school year.  This way we can get a rough idea of when we have breaks, early dismissal days, tests in other subjects, or how quickly or slowly we can move through a subject.  We were able to plan some subjects through the year (handwriting), and some through November.

I know that these are ROUGH ideas, and will depend on our class.  We have built in days for preassessments, so that way we can give the assessment before we begin the lessons.  Then we will have the opportunity to look through our plans and see where we can compact some lesson, or where we need to spend more time.

I hope that you have found some great ideas on how you want to start planning for the future.  I am excited about doing this, because then I won't be freaking out in April trying to figure out how I am going to squeeze in three more units for math, science, religion or any other subject that I "have" to teach!

If you having any questions about planning, please let me know!  I know I am no expert on keeping a plan book, but I am open to sharing what I use and talking about new ways to plan!

Back to School: What's on your Math Wall?

Math Wall . . . 
(Formerly known as just "the calendar"it's so much more now!
I have really grown to love my math wall!  So much that I re-decorate it! In kindergarten we use it every single day. I use it during calendar time, and during math time. The skills that we cover in our "Math Talks" are endless! It's something that I have enjoyed doing so much and I see so much value in, that I add to it every year. We do all of the typical things like calendar, days of the week, etc., but I really love doing number of the day. I use my number sense anchor charts by placing the anchor chart backward in a clear plastic sleeve that I keep hanging on the wall. We do the reveal by them asking questions about the number, but not what it is (this is so cute!). (I have several sets of my Number Sense Anchor Charts printed out so that I can use them in a variety of ways, (then I don't have to bother with the ones that I have posted currently.)

After the big reveal. . . . I have my number talk helper of the day come up to 
help me answer questions about the number. If my helper is able to write, I let them write the answers on the sticky note to place on the Number of the Day Anchor Chart. If they are not able to write yet, I model, talk aloud saying the number formation poem and and sometimes do hand over hand with them. 
(The other students are air writing while I'm writing on the sticky note). 
We answer all the questions the chart asks about the number, and then do a little cheer for the number. It is such a fun, interactive way to involve kids and get them talking and "seeing" math on a daily basis!

My ten frames are on a magnet board from IKEA. I use them ALL the time!
They are such an awesome visual for kids to concretely see number sense.
What is on your Math Wall?

Back to School: BEE Books!

I have to share a one of the best things I have ever implemented in my classroom with you today.  BEE books!

I got this idea from Jessica Meacham years ago and I have pretty much used them the same way for the last 8 years or so. They are that amazing!  In one neat folder there are resources for families, a behavior calendar, a place to keep papers, homework, and a zipper pouch for money and notes so they don't get lost.  I told you....AMAZING!
    The front inside cover has a little sticker with my contact information and a "Left at Home" sticker.  All papers at the end of the day that need to go home go in this side of the folder.  

 The first thing they see inside the folder is a zipper pocket with a little sticker that says "Money and Notes".  I encourage (actually I insist) that parents put any money or notes in this pocket.  I am horrible about being handed a note and then setting it down, sticking it in my pocket, or just burying it under a pile of homework.  (this makes me sound really unorganized but if you've ever been in a primary classroom you know what I mean!)  If they use the pocket I am SURE to see it because I check through them every morning.  It's quick and easy with the clear pocket in the front. 

Also included inside:

You can customize BEE Books to make them fit your needs, that's what I love about them most!  Add as many clear page protectors as you need to make them work for you.   

Here are some labels and an alphabet resource to get you started!  The labels are just good 'ol shipping labels and the cover labels I print on regular paper and tape with clear packing tape (this is needed to make them last all year long). 

Click HERE to get started!

I also have the behavior calendars as a forever freebie in my store too. You can get those by clicking on the picture.

  Thanks for stopping by Hello Sunshine Teachers today!   Remember we will be sharing fun back to school ideas all month long! 


First Day Fun with Playdough!

Good Morning!

We all know the first day of school can be hectic for most teachers. 

At many of the schools I've worked at, we've had a “Meet the Teacher/Bring Your Supplies Day” before school officially begins.  However, there were a couple years when we didn't have those days and students brought all their supplies and met their teacher on the first day of school!  When the first day comes, with all the supplies to put away, it does get very hectic!  Instead of expecting children to settle down with a worksheet, I placed a Ziploc bag filled with play dough and some work mats on each desk.  This is a highly engaging activity that requires no teacher guidance - allowing time to collect and assemble supplies. In addition, it also provides the children with a fun activity to calm their back to school jitters!

When I used this activity in my classroom, I had each child practice making numbers and their name with the play dough. Then I had them make something to represent their favorite summer activity.  This became one of our first “getting to know you” activities.  Each child shared about what they made.

Click here or on either picture above to download the recipe and some fun work mats!  Use these work mats or create your own for your students.  Be sure to laminate them.  :) 

Some additional ideas for how to work the play dough into an educational/getting to know you activity:
-use the dough to represent a favorite hobby or food
-use the dough to mold elements from a favorite book or story, etc.
-use the dough to create letters or build their name

What ideas do you have for incorporating play dough fun with the first day of school? 

Sticks 'n' Stones, The Power of Words

Stick and Stones activity

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me."

Of course you’ve heard this saying and may have even used it to try and comfort a child who has just had unkind words hurled at them.  But I say it’s untrue.  Words do hurt.  Even as adults we’ve heard things that hurt and sting for a long time. To a child even the smallest insult can have a larger impact.

During the first week of school. teachers spend a lot of time teaching procedures.  They also explain the behavior expectations and the classroom management system for the year. One activity you should add to your first week is this simple activity that shows the lasting effect of unkind words and actions.

1.      Begin by asking the kids what unkind words they've heard other kids say.  Write these words on some of the Sticks 'n' Stones slips. You'll need them later on in the activity.
2.    Now give each student a piece of paper with a blank human figure on it.  Ask them student to color the figure to look like themselves. As you wonder around the room make lots of positive comments about their work.  You want the students to be super proud of their figures. After they finish coloring the figures, students should cut out the figures and write their name on the back.
3.    Have students sit in a circle with their finished figure, a pencil and crayons. Tell students to pass the cutouts to the person on their right.  Read one of the Sticks 'n' Stones cards and tell students that those words hurt. Ask the student holding the figure they received to make a tiny tear in one of the legs.  Make sure it’s small.  (You might hear a few gasps when they see their figure being torn.)

4.    Pass the figures to the right again and read another Sticks 'n' Stones card.  This time ask students to use a crayon and draw a dark zig-zag line across the center of the body. (make sure the color they use shows up on the figure.)  
5.    Pass the figures again and read a Sticks 'n' Stones card. This time have them draw an X on the face with their pencil.
 6.   You can continue passing the figures as many times as you want, reading the Sticks 'n' Stones cards and adding other tears and marks to the figures.  I usually had the students do 5 or 6 things.
7.    On the final rotation read a Sticks 'n' Stones card and have students crumple the figures into a small ball. Collect the crumpled figures.
8.  Students now return to their desks as you gently uncrumple the figures and give them back to the owners.  When the students have their own figure they can try to repair themselves by flattening, smoothing, erasing, or taping.  They'll notice that no matter how much they flatten, smooth, erase or tape their figure the damage can still be seen. 

 Sticks and Stones, a lesson about unkind words.

Now is when you can talk about the effects of unkind words and hurt feelings.  Once words are heard or read, some part of them remain in our memories and continue to hurt. The figures will make a great display about using kind words.

Click on any of the last graphic to download this lesson.  You'll also receive a free sample from my Positive Behavior Tool Box.
A Free Sample:  Positive Behavior Tool Box

Student Spotlight - Recognizing Each Student in Your Classroom

It's still July and many of us teachers don't want to think of going back to school (just yet)! But for some of us (including myself) my modified traditional school begins THIS WEEK! I know I'm dying over here too! I go back this week for training, meet my 2nd graders on Thursday and then school begins Monday, July 20th! AHHHHHHHHH! 

One thing that I have been prepping for these last few weeks is my spotlight student activity that I do weekly for the entire year. I love to organize it now, that way I don't have to worry about it throughout the year. I wanted to share what I do to prepare for this easy activity to save teachers time with back to school to-do list!

First thing depending on what grade level you teach you need to decide what you want to do as a spotlight for your students. I choose to do one student a week. On Monday of each week they bring in their All About Me poster and share it with the class. We then hang it on our spotlight bulletin board for the entire week. This student is my teacher helper all week. That way they get to be noticed for being a good helper and who doesn't love that?

On Friday as a fast finisher for the weekly assessments I give, my students write a friendly letter to our spotlight student! I then bind the letters together with the bright cover and give them this with their poster to take home. Parents and children love reading these adorable letters and they love that you take time to do something extra special for each child in your class. 

I believe you can do a student spotlight for all grade levels. I went ahead and found some adorable ideas from Pinterest for other ways to showcase each of your students in your class. Find a way that fits your style and plan it out so its ready to go on day one!

Meet Your Teacher

Most teachers spend a great deal of time at the beginning of each school year getting to know their new students and doing community building exercises so the students get to know each other.  But, how do you introduce yourself to your students?  Some students come into the new school year with a lot of anxiety about their new teacher.  What will he/she be like? Will she have  sense of humor, does she like animals...? 

Each year on the first day of school, I spend a little bit of time introducing myself to my students, letting them see me as a person and not just the new teacher that they are stuck with for the next 9 months!

I start by using the cooperative learning strategy Round Table.  They send a piece of paper around the table and brainstorm questions they have about me, what are some things they would like to know about their new teacher.

After I have given them some time to brainstorm, I show them a Power Point all about me!

As I go through the slides, I tell them a little bit about the members of my family since they will hear me tell LOTS of stories about them throughout the year!


I end the slideshow by talking about all of the reasons that I love third grade and giving them a few things to look forward to.

After the slideshow, I have them look at the list of questions they brainstormed and cross off all of the questions the slideshow answered.  Then I let each table ask me one questions that wasn't crossed off. 

It's a great way to introduce yourself to the students and ease some of that anxiety on the first day.  They understand that I'm not just a teacher, that I have a family and interests outside of school...that I'm a real person!  Then we get down to the business of getting to know each other!

Join us all month as we share ideas to help you get ready to go back to school!

The Blessed Teacher

Kicking off a New School Year With Kindergarten Read Alouds

We all know the beginning of the school year is full of excitement, adjustment, and exhaustion. Our classes and days can be unpredictable and it takes some time to get students acclimated to classroom routines and procedures. Even if you have a basal curriculum, chances are you don't start teaching from it right away as there are pre-assessments, community building activities, and teaching routines to attend to. If you want to kick off the school year in a fun, meaningful way; and aren't sure where to start; one of the best and easiest resources to use at the beginning of the year are themed read alouds! I've got some great book recommendations for Kindergarten that can help get your students excited and feel more at ease for the upcoming year!

Utilizing picture books in the classroom is such a vital resource for your students. Reading stories aloud creates student interest in reading, introduces important story elements, and increases reading comprehension. For your early kindergarten learners, it also teaches skills such as sitting and listening appropriately to a story.

Here are some suggestions for great read alouds for the beginning of kindergarten:

Book Titles & Authors from top left to bottom right: Clifford's First School Day by Norman Bridwell, Miss Kindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate and Ashley Wolff, The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing, Kindergarten ROCKS! by Katie Davis, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, Kindergarten, Here I Come! by D.J. Steinberg and Mark Chambers, Countdown to Kindergarten by Allison McGhee and Harry Bliss, and David Goes to School by David Shannon

I've used every single one of the books pictured above and my students absolutely loved them! They were so excited when they found something in the book that "was the same as our class". The thing I love about these themed books is that you can literally create any activity you want to to go along with the story. Here are some examples of things I've done in my classroom:

The Kissing Hand

The Kissing Hand is a great book to help ease your kindergarteners' fears about starting school. On the first day, read the story aloud and then have your students create this poem craftivity. Students will trace their hand, cut it out, and draw a heart in the middle. You could also use heart stickers for a simple decoration. Then, glue the hand and poem onto a piece of construction paper and you've got an adorable keepsake from the first day of school. Click on the picture below to download the poem for free!
 photo kissing hand download pic_zpswmbgjhv9.png

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

This book tells the story of how a teacher gets ready for kindergarten. After reading the story, I have my students complete this activity sheet for students to draw a picture of how they got ready to come to kindergarten. When I model my version to the class, I make a point to talk about how many colors and details I am adding to my picture. It also provides a line for name writing practice, an essential kindergarten skill.

Clifford's First School Day

This is a simple story response sheet you can use with your students. By completing this activity, kindergarteners will have a chance to practice skills such as: name writing, letter tracing, drawing pictures to match labeling words, learning the name of their school, and story retelling by illustrating.

One thing I've learned from teaching kindergarten for 6 years is that they need LOTS of space to write and draw. Sometimes, when I create an activity, an 8 1/2x11 piece of paper just doesn't cut it. I use a ton of legal size and 11x17 paper, especially during the first half of the year. Thankfully, our school copier is set up to be able to print and copy this size - it's an easy fix to make one of the trays use different sizes of paper in the settings! Try it out! You'll thank yourself for it later when your little kinder babies are writing gigantic letters that just don't fit on a skinny little line. 

With that being said, I created the Clifford's First School Day response sheet on 11x17 paper. However, since it is saved as a PDF, you can print it on 8 1/2x11 paper - that is actually the default setting. If you'd like to print it out on 11x17 (which I highly recommend), here are the steps you follow:

1. Click "File" --> "Print"
2. Click "Page Setup" (usually at the bottom of the dialog box)

3. Click "Paper Size" and change it to Tabloid or 11x17 (may be different depending on if you are using a Mac or a PC)

4. Click "OK"
5. Click "Print"

And voila! You have a big workspace for your little learners.

But don't worry, you don't HAVE to print it on 11x17... it's just an option!

Click on the picture below to download the story response sheet for free!
 photo clifford freebie_zpsd8azcjit.png

What are some of your favorite read alouds for the beginning of the year? Share in the comments below, regardless of grade level! 

Back-to-School With Hello Sunshine

For many of you school just let out for the summer.  For others things are starting to gear up for back-to-school.  But we know teachers never REALLY have the summer off...

So this month, the teachers of Hello Sunshine are going to help you with ideas for 
New Beginnings - Getting Ready for Back-to-School.

I originally saw this idea on Pinterest at Christmas, but thought it would make a great ice breaker activity for back-to-school, so I tweeked it a bit.  Here's what you need: a sturdy paper plate for each person and a marker (or crayon for the littles.)  Each person puts the paper plate on their head and holds it with one hand.

Here's what it looked like on Happy Home Fairy.

With their other hand (their writing hand) they will draw as you give them these directions:

Here is what I envisioned as I wrote the directions (color coded to match the directions.)

And here's how it turned out when my daughter and I tried it...

On the original post, they gave points based on different criteria, but I thought is would just be a fun, creative way to break the tension of the first day of school and give everyone a giggle.  

What do you think?
Sound fun?

If you decide to try it, please come back and share the pics!  I would love to see them!  Click on the image below to download the directions with a link to the original post.

Make sure to follow out Back-to-School Pinterest Board and check back all month long for lots of great beginning of the year ideas to help you get ready for a new crop of kiddos.

Follow Hello's board Hello Sunshine - Back-to-School on Pinterest.

To join in the fun, just grab this button to include in your post:

...and nab this handy template to organize your back-to-school
 ideas, activities, links, and books:

(To use this template, save it as an image to your computer.  Use it as the background for a power point page, use text boxes to add your info, and then save your whole new creation as a PDF and/or as an image to include in your blog post.)

Next step:
Link up with us!
(Please link directly to this Sharin' a Little Sunshine post URL to keep things easy to find.)  Product links within a post are fine, but please no direct product links.

And the optional-but-awesome final step is to visit other linked-up blogs... and leave some love!